Today was our Edinburgh layover day. My legs needed it. I had developed a deep muscle weariness not felt yesterday.
Lying in the top bunk facing an east window, morning shone brightly at 6 a.m. SUN!! We'd seen so little of it. My bunkmate rattled around early. The word "quiet" had no meaning for her. Talking was also one of her strong suits.
Breakfast was cheap - bananas and milk purchased at the hostel, and the bean/mince pie bought yesterday from the St. Andrews bakery. Nourishing, albeit unusual.
As we strolled down to Princes Street, angling through the Princes Street Garden, aimed toward the TI and staging area for the guided walking tour of the Royal Mile, Tracy and I made the morning bakery run. The cream fillings were addictive; and, of course, cholesterol laden. But, that's the joy of cycling. Eating terrific food not normally part of one's diet. The calories are pedaled away.
Clouds hung in the southern sky, downwind from the warm bright sun overhead. With my jacket tied at my waist, I was prepared for any change in the weather.
£3 bought us space in the 11 a.m. Royal Mile walking tour. Historian Robin Sinton, Edinburgh native and recently returned from six years in New Zealand as a scientific writer, was our guide. His quick wit and dry humor amused us while his "dramatic" interludes personalized the sights.
...Lady Stairs' home;
...St. Giles Church with its colorful modern stained glass window dedicated to Robt. Louis Stevenson (where later Tracy and I returned to visit the small and impressive Thistle Chapel - where the reigning monarch installs the Order of the Thistle) ;
...Wynds, closes, (tiny alleyways which either go through [wynd] or don't [close]) and a pend (hole through a building - e.g. portico);
...Gladstone's Land (a land is an apartment building);
...Various dedications to R.L. Stevenson, Robt. Burns, and economist Adam Smith's graves;
...Princes St. Garden where we admired the tall thistle and lavender sage; ...Museum of the People, depicting the history of Scotland;
...Museum of Childhood, full of toys and trains and tots;
...Holyrood Castle, where the queen stays when she visits Scotland. We were unable to visit the castle grounds as HRH Queen Elizabeth was in town to attend an induction into the Order of the Thistle. Her standard was flying, and Beefeater guards stood motionless at the castle entrance.
Along our walk, I finally found my long-sought fisherman knit sweater - big, bulky and cornflower blue! I didn't know how I was going to carry it, but I would.
As the day progressed, the skies darkened. The mid-afternoon rain began as we persisted up the hill to view Edinburgh Castle. We didn't go in - the fee was too high for the student budgets.
We imbued ourselves with more culture by visiting the Royal Academy to see a collection of contemporary Scottish artists. Not much of the art appealed to me. But the gift shop had an extensive selection of Winnie the Pooh stuff. For some reason, Pooh is quite popular at the moment.
[As I write this I'm watching BBC-2. in the hostel common room. Wimbledon and something about Irish and American folk singing.
This is a pretty impersonal hostel. The travelers are friendly enough but the wardens are distinctly distant in their attitude. I chatted at some length with a grad student couple from Stanford who were hiking around Scotland. They, too, were weary of the rain, but were also loving their trip.
It's 8:30 p.m. and raining again! Ugh. Wonder what we'll do tomorrow if it's raining when we are ready to leave. In about 1/2 hr. we're going to hunt down a nearby pub. Then I'll collapse in bed. I'm weary and need to sit still so my legs will be "good" by tomorrow.
We detrained a week ago - it seems longer. Perhaps a two week bike tour is long enough when traveling out of the country with people who "have to ride" no matter what. Get-there-itis. Things happen slowly - being on the road this long seems much longer. We possibly planned more than I can handle, overestimating the mileage that I can ride each day, and poor route planning. Just touring a loop through Scotland would have been wise - or part of England. Because of our plans, we may end up on more "A" roads than are necessary. I regret that we aren't seeing the west coast of Scotland; that we will miss the Lake District and Cotswolds of England. I don't have a problem throwing the bike on a bus - I don't think the guys want to do that. I am suffering from that transient affliction known as "road weary."]